With all the concern about flying during COVID-19, I thought I would take a moment to share what has happened to me while flying over the last 15 years as a professional speaker and trainer. You thought COVID-19 was bad, and it is very bad. However, I do see some positive things happening as well. I am struggling to find the good during this horrible time with COVID-19. This may be a controversial way of looking air travel right now, but I’m comparing my experiences historically with what I am experiencing now as I travel again. The Positive Out of the Negative:Yes, it’s dangerous to fly right now, but the crowds are way down, people are hushed as they make their way to the gate and there is a feeling that wasn’t there before COVID. Actually, some of those factors make flying now easier and a lot less stressful, at least for me. I know my routine. How to get through security with ease, restaurants to eat and so many professional learnings throughout my tenure as a professional speaker that makes it semi – effortless to travel. Here is an example of some of the dangers of flying BEFORE the pandemic that I have experienced. I’m not sure what motivated me to write this blog, but I got inspired and thought I would stab at it. Here’s goes. In so many ways, it’s a more enjoyable experience to fly now. This may not be a popular perspective, but I love the quiet, fewer crowds, and deeper respect for our own personal wellbeing. In a strange way, air travel is better during a pandemic. Let me explain…Preview of upcoming stories…all true as exactly they took place.
Here are a few of the stories and I have a lot of them, of incidents that have happened to me during a flight. Hold on to your hats… it’s a bumpy ride.
Groped on an Airplane: I boarded a United flight to a speaking gig. I was sitting right by the middle exit, where there are 2 seats only. A gentleman sat next to me. We had some polite conversation and I drifted off to sleep. I woke to his leg rubbing up and down mine. I repositioned and he continued. I was freaked out, to say the least. I gathered my thoughts and went back to the restroom. I was in shock and upset. When I told the flight attendant what had happened, she went into “oh no you did not do that! mode. Thank goodness. I felt seen. She quickly ushered me to a new seat in coach. A muscular gentleman took my seat, I assumed he was an air marshal. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I exited the plane, I was sure that the offender had already left the airport, but no. He was waiting for me as I exited. My heart raced as I walked by him, he looked at me straight-faced and creepily said: “Thank You!”. Needless to say, that was a very rough plane ride. Baby Down In The Aisle: This was a very interesting Southwest flight. I’m assuming you know what I mean when I say “goth”. Lots of black, leather, and dark eyeliner. To each his own. However, this couple seems particularly annoyed that they had a toddler. They began drinking heavily, arguing, and being solicitous of other comments on their interactions. Just a typical day on an airplane. When we were just about to land, she put her toddler down next to her seat in the aisle. I look up and I see both flight attendants from each side of the plane, unbuckle and run toward the child. They both braced themselves for the landing while holding on to the child. Once the plane landed, the flight attendants scolded the parents about the dangers of what they did. If you have flown, you know the immense movement and strength during a landing. You are glad you have your seat belt fastened. Then the young couple starts rallying the people around them. “Did you see that?” “They were so rude to us!” and “How dare they scold them about their own child!”. Then they exited the plane. I just left shaking my head in disbelief. A rough rideSeizures and Soda: Not long ago, I was sitting in an exit row middle seat. Tight quarters as always. About half-way during the flight, a hand grabbed my shoulder in a paralyzed, shaking state. He was having a seizure. I was so freaked out and worried about him. I honestly thought he was dying. I could not reach the attendant button and loudly asked the man on the other side of me to push that button. He seemed confused and did not help. Well, for about 15 seconds, he shook me roughly. When he came out of his seizure, I was covered in soda and it was all over my computer. He looked at me square in the face and said: “I have seizures but I forgot to take my meds this morning!”. No apology, just back to his book. I was stunned, wet, and freaked out. No apology or any acknowledgment of what had just happened. I went to the bathroom to clean up and wipe my computer down. I told the flight attendant what happened and I got a dead face. She said, “what would you like me to do about it?” I was concerned that he was in the exit row without his meds. She shrugged her shoulders and I returned to my seat. It was like I was in a parallel universe. Did that just happen? What was I supposed to do now?” We all exited the plane as nothing had happened. Drunken Vegas: I was flying to Vegas for one of my retreats. I headed to the exit row, as I love the extra space in the exit row and the “lovers chairs” which are the 2 seats by themselves. This very friendly man offered me a seat. How nice, I thought. Well, that is where the pleasantries ended. He pulled out 3 mini-bottles of vodka and downs them in seconds, one after the other. Then he pulls out a vape and starts smoking and putting his smoke inside the neck of his hoodie. I start to panic. Then to top it off, he pulled out a half dozen edibles. He was constantly trying to enroll me in his bad behavior. We finally landed and he went out to take on Vegas. Really? Really. A rough flight. I have more stories but I thought those were enough. I tell these stories, to illustrate that flying has always been dangerous. But somehow, I feel safer than ever flying during a pandemic. Let’s all be safe of course when are flying. I am enjoying traveling now, more than ever.